Al-Qa’ida(translates to: The Base)
Maktab al-Khidamat (MAK – Services Office)
the Jews and Crusaders
Al-Qa’ida is multi-national, with members from
numerous countries and with a worldwide presence. Senior leaders in the
organization are also senior leaders in other terrorist organizations,
including those designated by the Department of State as foreign terrorist
organizations, such as the Egyptian al-Gama’at al-Islamiyya and the Egyptian
al-Jihad. Al-Qa’ida seeks a global radicalization
of existing Islamic groups and the creation of radical Islamic groups
where none exist.
Bosnia, Chechnya, Tajikistan, Somalia, Yemen, and now Kosovo. It also
trains members of terrorist organizations from such diverse countries
as the Philippines, Algeria, and Eritrea.
Al-Qa’ida‘s goal is to “unite all Muslims
and to establish a government which follows the rule of the Caliphs.”
Bin Ladin has stated that the only way to establish the Caliphate is by
force. Al-Qa’ida‘s goal, therefore, is to overthrow
nearly all Muslim governments, which are viewed as corrupt, to drive Western
influence from those countries, and eventually to abolish state boundaries.
Usama Bin Ladin, a multi-millionaire ex-Saudi
financier who is a principal source of funding and direction for Al-Qa’ida,
has been described by the US Government as “one of the most significant
financial sponsors of Islamic extremist activities in the world today.”
Usama Bin Ladin was born around 1955 in Jeddah,
Saudi Arabia. He is the youngest son of Muhammad Bin
Ladin, a wealthy Saudi of Yemeni origin and founder of the Bin
Ladin Group, a construction firm heavily involved with Saudi Government
Usama Bin Ladin left Saudi Arabia to fight
against the Soviets in Afghanistan in 1979.
He sponsored and led a number of Arabs fighting in Afghanistan
against the Soviets in the 1980s. In the mid-1980s he co-founded the Maktab
al-Khidamat (MAK) or Services Office, to help funnel fighters and money
to the Afghan resistance in Peshawar with the Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood
leader Abdallah Azzam. The MAK ultimately established recruitment centers
around the world — including in the U.S., Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan
— that enlisted, sheltered, and transported thousands of individuals
from over 50 countries to Afghanistan to
fight the Soviets. It also organized and funded paramilitary training
Ladin imported heavy equipment to cut roads and tunnels and to build
hospitals and storage depots in Afghanistan.
As many as 10,000 Arabs received training and combat experience in Afghanistan.
Of these, nearly half were Saudis, with others including more than 3000
Algerians, 2000 Egyptians, and hundreds of others from Yemen, Sudan, Pakistan,
Syria and other Muslim states.
Bin Ladin split from Azzam in the late 1980s to extend his campaign to
all corners of the globe while Azzam remained focused only on support
to Muslims waging military campaigns. Bin Ladin formed a new organization
in 1988 called Al-Qa’ida — the military “base.” After Azzam
was killed by a car bomb in late 1989, the MAK split, with the extremist
his family’s Jeddah-based construction business after the Soviets withdrew
from Afghanistan in 1989, but he continued his organization to support
opposition movements in Saudi Arabia and Yemen.
After Afghanistan, Bin-Ladin ran the Jihad Committee which includes the
Egyptian Islamic Group and the Jihad Organization in Yemen, the Pakistani
al-Hadith group, the Lebanese Partisans League, the Libyan Islamic Group,
Bayt al-Imam Group in Jordan, and the Islamic Group in Algeria. This committee
runs the Islamic Information Observatory center in London, which organizes
media activity for these organizations, and the Advisory and Reformation
Body which also has a bureau in London.
In 1991 he relocated to the Sudan, and in 1994 he was stripped of his
Saudi citizenship after Algeria, Saudi Arabia and Yemen accused him of
supporting subversive groups. Although the Afghan war had ended, Al-Qa’ida
has remained a formidable organization consisting of mujahedin of many
nationalities who had previously fought with Bin Ladin. Many of these
have remained loyal to and continue working with him today.
Sudan harbors a number of terrorist groups, although in May 1996 it expelled
Bin Laden and members of some terrorist groups under Saudi pressure, and
in response to U.S. insistence and to the threat of UN sanctions following
Sudan’s alleged complicity in the attempted assassination of Egyptian
President Hosni Mubarak in Ethiopia in 1995.
Bin Laden quickly returned to Afghanistan
after leaving Sudan, where his support for and participation in Islamic
extremist activities continued. Since departing Sudan he is said to have
changed considerably, suspecting that there are plots to murder him, so
he reportedly now only trusts only a narrow circle of people. He is reported
to act on the premise that attack is the best line of defense, rather
than efforts to unify extremist groups.
Prior to the emergence of the Taleban he was functioning and moving around
freely while Rabbani and Massood ruled in Kabul. Bin Laden was subsequently
reported to be living in Taleban-held Jalalabad in Afghanistan with about
50 of his family members and bodyguards. A few months after his arrival
in Afghanistan the Taleban gained control over Jalalabad and Kabul, and
launched a campaign against the “Arab Afghans.” In February
1997 the Taleban rejected an American agreement to turn Bin Ladin over
to them in return for international recognition and obtaining Afghanistan‘s
seat in international organizations. But in early 1997 at least two large
bombs were detonated in Jalalabad as part of attempts to assassinate Bin Ladin, including a 19 March 1997 explosion that destroy the police station,
killing more than 50 and wounding 150. Bin Ladin subsequently moved to
Kandahar from his Jalalabad stronghold as a result of concerns for his
personal safety. Kandahar is the stronghold of the Students of the Shari’ah’s,
and the central residence of the Commander of the Faithful al-Mulla Muhammad
‘Umar. The Taleban Islamic State of Afghanistan claimed that they moved
him to Kandahar to keep him under strict limitations [according to some
reports he was under house arrest], and that he was no longer allowed
to use Afghan soil to cause harm to any country, including Saudi Arabia.
Most recently he was reportedly moving between four or five camps in
Afghanistan which are the bases for about 200 followers staying with him.
He has financed and supported some 600 or 700 other people outside Afghanistan.
Bin Laden is said to have established cells of supporters in Yemen, and
as of late 1996 it was reported that an additional 2,000 “Afghans”
were resident in Somalia and the Ogaden region, with relatively few actually
Bin-Ladin provides money to humanitarian organizations and to Islamic
publications and groups. He advocates the destruction of the United States,
which he sees as the chief obstacle to reform in Muslim societies. Since
1996, his anti-U.S. rhetoric has escalated to the point of calling for
worldwide attacks on Americans and allies, including civilians.
Bin-Ladin was involved in operations against the American forces in Somalia
In 1995 it was reported that Bin Ladin had agreed to finance a “Gulf
Battalion” organized by the Iranian Guardians of the Revolution.
It was suggested that he had convinced Yemeni fundamentalist leader Shaykh
‘Abd-al-Majid al-Zandani, to position elements of the Gulf Battalion in
al-Zandani’s camps in Yemen for deployment in Gulf countries when circumstances
Osama Bin Laden is suspected by the US of being responsible for 1996 bomb
attacks on American service personnel in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.
In mid-1996 a meeting of various leaders convened by Bin Laden reached
a consensus “to use force to confront all foreign forces stationed
on Islamic land,” and to form a planning committee; a financing,
supply, and mobilization committee; and a higher military committee to
oversee implementation of the plan.
Bin Ladin publicly issued his “Declaration of War” against the
United States in August 1996. When anti-U.S. attacks did not materialize
immediately, he explained the delay: “If we wanted to carry out small
operations, it would have been easy to do so immediately after the statements.
Even the nature of the battle requires good preparation.”
In November 1996 he pronounced as “praiseworthy terrorism” the
bombings in Riyadh and at Khobar in Saudi Arabia, promising that other
attacks would follow. He admitted carrying out attacks on U.S. military
personnel in Somalia and Yemen, declaring that “we used to hunt them
down in Mogadishu.”
He stated in an interview broadcast in February 1997 that “if someone
can kill an American soldier, it is better than wasting time on other
In February 1998, Bin Ladin announced the creation of a new alliance of
terrorist organizations, the “International Islamic Front for Jihad
Against the Jews and Crusaders.” The Front included the Egyptian
al-Gama’at al-Islamiyya, the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, the Harakat ul-Ansar,
and two other groups. The Front declared its intention to attack Americans
and our allies, including civilians, anywhere in the world. By at least
February 1998, the Egyptian Islamic Jihad had effectively merged with
al Qaeda and joined with al Qaeda in targeting American civilians.
In May 1998, he stated at a press conference in Afghanistan
that we would see the results of his threats “in a few weeks.”
On 07 August 1998 a car bomb exploded behind the US Embassy, killing 291
persons and wounding about 5,000. The majority of the casualties were
Kenyan citizens. Twelve US citizens died, and six were injured in the
attack. A group calling itself the “Islamic Army for the Liberation
of the Holy Places” immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks
in Nairobi and a near-simultaneous explosion in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
US officials believe the group is a cover name used by Usama
Bin Ladin‘s al-Qaida organization. Indictments were returned in the
US District Court for the Southern District of New York charging Usama
Bin Ladin and 11 other individuals for these and other terrorist acts
against US citizens. At yearend, four of the indicted- Wadih El Hage,
Mohamed Rashed Daoud al-Owhali, Mamdouh Mahmud Salim, and Mohammed Sadeeck
Odeh-were being held in New York, while Khalid al-Fawwaz remained in the
United Kingdom pending extradition to the United States. The other suspects
remain at large. The Government of Kenya cooperated closely with the United
States in the criminal investigation of the bombing. On 20 August 1998,
President Clinton amended Executive Order 12947 to add Usama
Bin Ladinand his key associates to the list of terrorists, thus blocking
< br /> their US assets-including property and bank accounts-and prohibiting all
US financial transactions with them. Bin Laden remains in Afghanistan
under the protection of the Taliban, an ultra-conservative Islamic militia
that controls most of that country. The United States conducted a bombing
run — Operation Infinite Reach — against bin Laden’s facilities there
on 20 August 1998.
Bin-Ladin’s investments include companies involved in property management,
maritime transport, aircraft rental, public works, contracting and other
commercial activities in a number of countries. His investments in Sudan
include construction and agricultural projects, with other commercial
activities in Somalia, Switzerland, and Luxembourg. His European interests
are managed by lawyers in Switzerland, which makes his financial dealings
and support to terrorism difficult, but not impossible, to follow.
Acting under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, the Security
Council on 15 October 1999 demanded that the Afghan faction, known as
the Taliban, turn over Usama bin Laden to appropriate authorities in a
country where he would be brought to justice. In that context, it decided
that on 14 November 1999 all States shall freeze funds and prohibit the
take-off and landing of Taliban-owned aircraft unless or until the Taliban
complies with that demand. Since the Taliban did not comply with this
obligation, the measures of the resolution have entered into effect.
Taliban representatives had stated that they were totally opposed to
terrorism, but that Mr. bin Laden was a guest, that he had become a resident
of Afghanistan prior to the Taliban taking control, and that he no longer
had communication with his followers. At the same time, the official spokesman
of Al-Qaida has stated that they have been supplying fighters to Chechnya.
It seems that they are active not only in Chechnya, but have worried the
other Central Asian republics, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and even Iran.
They are certainly turning up in Kashmir, which is one of the important
flash points in the world. In mid-December 1999 the Jordanian police arrested
members of a cell planning attacks against western tourists. This cell
was linked to Usama bin Laden. On 14 December 1999 Customs agents arrested
an Algerian national smuggling almost 50 pounds of explosive materials
and detonating devices into the United States. The other Algerians subsequently
arrested in connection with this plot apparently were “Afghan alumni,”
trained with the mujahedin in Afghanistan and also linked to Usama bin
In testimony 02 February 2000 before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence,
Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, George Tenet said Usama
Bin Ladin “is still foremost” among terrorists planning
attacks against the United States and that more than half of 24 terrorists
brought to justice since July 1998 “were associates” of Bin
Ladin‘s Al-Qa’ida organization. He said
that despite some disruptions, U.S. intelligence officials believe Bin
Ladin could strike without warning, and that the terrorist — along
with others — is “placing increased emphasis on developing surrogates
to carry out attacks in an effort to avoid detection.”
The United States on 08 May 2000 indicted two Egyptians being held in
London for the deadly bombing of United States embassies in Nairobi, Kenya,
and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in August 1998, which resulted in more than
200 deaths and more than 4,000 injuries. The US indictment was filed in
New York City and superceded a previous indictment related to the bombing.
The indictment brought to 17 the total number of persons charged, six
of whom are in custody in the United States and three in the United Kingdom.